Recently Featured Essays:  

The Fisherman and a .410 Shotgun

by John Messick

One summer Saturday in sixth grade, my father offered to drive me fifteen miles down the road to go fishing with an old man whose wife had recently passed away.

“John,” my father told me, “You’ll make Mr. Radevich happy if you do this.”

“Sure Dad,” I replied, and rushed to our garage for my tackle box.

At twelve, I held the opinion that there was no greater pursuit in life than fishing, and I believed still that the whole point was to catch fish. I was obsessed. While my classmates watched cartoons, I would don my father’s waders and slog through icy streams in pursuit of wary trout. On Sundays, I brought a rod to church because we sometimes stopped at a nearby lake on our way home. The rest of the week, I spent hours in our front yard with a plastic plug, perfecting my cast. I memorized the regulations for every lake and stream in a three state radius; I hid Field and Stream articles in my school desk. I studied underwater maps with a flashlight under my blankets, well after bedtime.

Whenever the chance to go fishing arose, I took it. It didn’t matter to me that Dragisa Radevich was almost seventy years my senior, or that he had an accent so thick it was almost incomprehensible. He was old, which meant to me that he probably had a lot of fishing experience. Logically, this improved my chances of catching more fish. Back then, I would have hedged almost any bet, suffered any embarrassment, endured any hardship, in order to catch more, and bigger, fish. It never occurred to me that an old fisherman might impart a deeper wisdom as well.

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Chasing the Dead

by Susan E. Lindsey

I kneel in the damp sod in front of Lydia’s lichen-covered gravestone. It’s a chilly October day in southeastern Kansas. The wind scatters white clouds across a cornflower blue sky. Dry oak leaves skitter through the graveyard and collect by the thirty or so gravestones.

I press my palms against the soil covering Lydia. I’m not sure what I expect to feel—surely not a pulse. Lydia’s heart stopped beating more than 140 years earlier. I had been haunted by dreams of her for months.

I’m an amateur genealogist; we live for these moments. Call us crazy (many do), but there’s something fascinating about chasing the dead.

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I See Dead People (Well, Not Really)

by Anna Mantzaris

It started more than a decade ago when I lived in a studio apartment in the Mission District of San Francisco—waking up in my Murphy bed I’d see a table that wasn’t there, a plant I had never purchased, a stack of books that didn’t belong to me. Maybe I had been in Northern California too long but I immediately credited the images as lingering energy, remnants of years past. I told a handful of friends—the kind who would drive to San Rafael for psychic readings at Aesclepion, an “intuitive training” school with a well-known clairvoyant program that hosted trancemedium retreats—who were happy to back my theory. The place was haunted.

My Greek-American family had numerous “tales from the dark side,” like my yia yia, who on more than one occasion, would wake to relatives and friends sitting at the end of her bed, later finding out they had died during the night. It wasn’t unusual for us to make the trek to New Jersey from our Hudson Valley home to visit relatives where I would have my tea leaves read in the kitchen by a theia who had powers from the Old Country. So when I started seeing things from the “other side” I simply accepted it. Did I catch the occasional episode of “Ghost Hunters”? Sure. Did spirit objects really seem so implausible? No. Am I embarrassed to admit this now? A little. 

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